Our guest today is Donna More, the candidate for Cook County State’s Attorney.
She appeared on the program about an hour after the Cook County Democrats met to endorse her opponent, Kim Foxx.
She told us that she wasn’t exactly devastated that the party didn’t pick her.
“In fact, I think it’s actually good for my campaign,” she explained. “I have said from the beginning that of the three of us running I am independent, and my other two opponents are politically tied, in particular Kim Foxx to Toni Preckwinkle, and the proof is in the pudding this morning.”
More is withering in her criticism of both her opponents. Foxx, she says, owes her very campaign to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
“Would Kim Foxx be able to run without Toni Preckwinkle pushing her out there?” she asks. “And the answer to that question is no. Kim Foxx was in the State’s Attorney’s Office but had a fairly undistinguished legal career, let her law license lapse when she left because she was going to work for the county in a non-legal job. So this was not really a passion of hers, because if it’s a passion to be State’s Attorney you don’t let your law license lapse.”
But Donna More holds Anita Alvarez more responsible for the Laqaun McDonald debacle than anyone else.
“In terms of how you handle the case, or how I would handle the case as State’s Attorney, the murder happened on August 20th, 2014. In Anita Alvarez’s own words, she had that videotape by early November 2014. And once you look at that videotape, remember it’s probable cause to indict, between the time of indictment and the time you actually go to trial where your burden is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, there’s a lot that still happens with your case…And after you view the videotape, Anita has said this, this tape is horrific. Well it was horrific on day 20, and that’s why I think you could have indicted this case much more quickly and promptly and prevented people from needing to protest for justice in the streets. We would have been in a courtroom already.”
We point out that Anita Alvarez has steadfastly maintained that she was unable to move forward with an indictment because the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office was also investigating the case. More’s not buying it.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office does not indict on a state murder charge. IPRA, the Independent Police Review Agency has no power of indictment,” she explains. “They are looking at what I would say is administrative discipline for a police officer. And so we know that even though Ms. Alvarez said she had to wait for the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation, she did not…The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating civil rights violations, maybe some issues – again, corruption issues within the police department, but they weren’t investigating charging first degree murder. That was in the purview of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
And, in any case, More points out, Alvarez went ahead with her own indictment anyway, earlier in the same day the tapes were revealed to the public.
“Anita Alvarez has said publicly, the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not get involved, at the earliest I think, I’ve heard her say December of ’14,” More claims. “I’ve heard some people say March or April of ’15. Anita Alvarez should have indicted this case in November before there was any federal involvement, and she could have. There was nothing preventing her from doing it. And she hasn’t been transparent about what is happening. And, the fact that it comes out minutes before the tape comes out suggests to me that this was a cover-up.
More says she knows a way to overcome the inherent problem of an office that works regularly with police personnel, and over time can become too familiar with, and ultimately protective of, the police.
“Here’s how you solve the problem,” she asserts. “You know both of my opponents would have the feds come in, or special prosecutors come in that cost taxpayers’ money because they don’t trust themselves and the 900 lawyers that are in the office to prosecute a police shooting. I disagree, and I wrote an op ed on this about a month ago. What you need to do is you need to form a small unit of experienced felony prosecutors, but prosecutors who will not be in a trial court every day.”
“So, let’s have a special unit where all these prosecutors are going to do is focus on police shooting cases,” she continues, “and those prosecutors would report direct to me, because at the end of the day as State’s Attorney I’m the one that has to make the tough call…I enjoy and have always enjoyed good relationships with law enforcement. They are out there putting their lives on the line, but as I stated earlier, when you are State’s Attorney you have to be willing to prosecute crime no matter who commits it. If it’s a police officer, if it’s a lawyer, if it’s just a guy walking down the street.
And the other piece of the puzzle is more aggressive use of Grand Juries.
“And the way you break the code of silence,” she explains, is you have to aggressively use your grand jury, and that’s something that’s done much more so in the U.S. Attorney’s Office than in the State’s Attorney. And if an officer knows that within hours or days of witnessing a police shooting they are going to be put in a grand jury under oath it does two things, one is it gives them the ability to tell their fellow officer, ‘Hey… I can’t do this’. And it also then says I can’t tell something on a police report that’s not true. And by doing that you break the code of silence. You get witnesses, police officer or civilian, that are telling you the truth and the grand jury and you can compel testimony in the grand jury.”
The slating session this morning took about twenty minutes.
“…which is more than they took to do the payoff for Laquan McDonald, but not enough to fix the justice system,’ More concludes. “We can’t throw up our hands and do nothing…We have got to try to fix this, and the voters have got to pay attention and vote for the person who isn’t beholden, because that’s the only way we’ll fix it.”
You can read a full transcript of today’s discussion here: CN transcript 01 14 16.
And you can view our earlier interview with Kim Foxx HERE.